Agency to report all large UK banks Y2K-ready

The UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) will reveal at its National Infrastructure meeting in October that all the major financial institutions in the country are prepared for computer issues that may arise due to the date change to 2000.

The government agency will announce that 140 "high-impact" companies and 270 "medium-impact" companies are already out of the "red zone" at the meeting on October 20, according to FSA spokesman Robin Gordon Walker.

High-impact companies are defined as institutions whose failure would cause widespread problems. These range from the four largest banks in the City -- as London's financial district is known -- to smaller insurance firms and business-to-business companies.

The FSA uses a traffic-light system to rate the financial institutions, with red meaning unready, amber meaning fallen behind with a good chance of catching up and blue meaning that all appears to be in order.

It is possible for a company to fall back into the amber or the red categories if they upgrade to software that is not Y2K compliant, however, according to Walker. The year 2000 computer problem has arisen because some older software was written to handle only two-digit dates, and therefore may mistake, for example, "00" for 1900 rather than 2000.

Although the system relies largely on institutions submitting their own information, the FSA does validate their reports through their own knowledge, according to Walker.

There were originally 12 high-impact companies in the red in January; now there are no high- or medium-impact companies in red, and only 30 to 35 high- and medium-impact companies in the amber zone, he said.

The most recent printed assessment issued by the FSA was made on July 22, when two medium- or high-impact institutions were red and 28 per cent of them were amber. Currently, there are only 8 per cent of companies in the high- or medium-impact categories in amber.

As far as the 2200 low-impact institutions are concerned, the latest figures taken earlier this month say that less than .1 per cent of them are listed as red, 5 per cent are amber and the remaining 94.9 per cent are in the blue, Walker said.

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